The race for New York City mayor kicked off in earnest Wednesday, as incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio, fresh off his Democratic primary victory, traded barbs with Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis at separate campaign events.
De Blasio, who trounced a field of underdog primary rivals Tuesday by collecting 74 percent of the vote, addressed about two dozen supporters at his campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, where he called the upcoming general election a battle “between a progressive Democrat and a pro-Trump Republican.”
Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman from Staten Island who voted for Donald Trump in the general election after endorsing Marco Rubio in the primary, said at a news conference in Queens that de Blasio was trying to raise his profile by making the race about the president who polls show is largely unpopular in his hometown.
“I’m not in this race to fight an ideological war. I’m not looking to do what the mayor is doing, which is try to raise a national profile,” Malliotakis told reporters before visiting a church senior center.
She said she opposed Trump’s move to revoke the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded from deportation young immigrants who came illegally to the United States as children and allowed them to work. De Blasio also has denounced the program’s elimination, and has said the city would use its legal resources to protect affected residents.
Malliotakis billed herself as “the candidate of the disenchanted in the City of New York,” and “the candidate of the ignored,” saying she would spend the weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 election prosecuting “the case against Bill de Blasio being elected to a second term.”
“The primary is over and the people of this city deserve answers as to why Mayor de Blasio deserves a second term,” she said.
De Blasio said he had long taken on issues of “inequality,” and touted his success at providing prekindergarten classes, at public expense, to all of the city’s 4-year-olds.
“Last night was an affirmation of the kinds of changes that people want to see in this city,” de Blasio said. “It was an affirmation that we need to fight the tale of two cities and create opportunity for all.”
De Blasio, running in a city where Democrats far outnumber Republicans, enters the general election race with a substantial polling and fundraising lead.
In a polling matchup that excluded the independent and third party candidates running for mayor, 57 percent of voters said they would vote for de Blasio, compared to 22 percent for Malliotakis.
De Blasio has raised $5 million in campaign contributions, compared to Malliotakis who has $220,000 on hand, according to campaign finance records. Malliotakis conceded she’d be outspent but hopes to qualify for matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board.